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Bark’s Bytes #42 | Being BOLD

Published September 27, 2021

In mid-March of 2020 our services were shutdown by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Human Services (DHS) as part of Governor Walz’s peacetime emergency plan to mitigate the transmission of the Covid-19 virus. Despite the best efforts of families and residential providers, we quickly understood how detrimental it was to the mental, physical, and emotional health of clients to be isolated at home 24 hours a day with no end in sight. In mid-June we were permitted to begin serving a limited number of clients and felt compelled to serve as many as possible within the DHS restrictions.

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To manage the daily challenges of the pandemic it became necessary to have an expectation of how we were going to work towards resuming typical operations. To unify our management team of 18 professionals I offered the mantra of being BOLD which meant ~ Believe It, Own it, Lead it, and Do it and I will explain how this was used in our journey.

Believe it. Was the professional confidence that with a clear intention, sufficient resources, and a little good luck it was possible that each of us could contribute to a shared objective – in this case resuming typical services by 7/1/21.

Own it. With the intention known, each of us had to understand how the Covid-19 restrictions imposed on day programs by MDH and DHS could be met while maximizing the number of clients served. This required split shifts, using common space for workstations, and more frequent cleanings to name just a few adjustments.

Lead it. Perhaps the most difficult aspect was handling the frequent changes and obstacles with an attitude of “we can overcome” rather than “we are at the mercy of others”.

Do it. Can’t say it any better than we all had to step up and get busy doing what we could to serve more clients. It helped that every time a client returned to our program it was cause for a celebration.

I am pleased to report that on 7/12/21 we resumed typical operations serving 85% of the clients enrolled pre-pandemic and have had only one case of Covid-19 traced back to our program. We are working with a few business partners to bring our crews back to their operations and find new jobs for direct-hire clients that were displaced by the pandemic and should be back to full census in the near future.

I do not claim to be management guru and have no desire to go on a speaking circuit or write a book. Still, the BOLD mantra can be useful in coordinating a team’s intention for most challenges, securing each manager’s commitment, reinforcing that one can control their actions, and that any well-intended action is better than no action. Give it a try and I would be interested in any success stories.